DIY Homemade High Protein Dog Food is a great way to save money over expensive high quality dog food as well as give you peace of mind to know exactly what is in your dog’s food. This recipe is perfect for freezing and is pup approved!
Matt and I decided to have a furry addition to our family, our Belgian Malinois, Pebbles, I knew I wanted to make homemade dog food. Little did I know, finding a cost-efficient and high protein homemade recipe was really difficult! Most recipes I read where very heavy in carbohydrates or were 100% raw meat. I couldn’t find anything in-between so I decided to do some research and create my own recipe.
*Please note that I am not a veterinarian or nutritionist, please consult with a professional to ensure your dog food meets your dog’s nutritional needs.
I tested a few different proteins to ensure they were something Pebbles’ liked. Surprisingly she wasn’t a huge fan of beef and was just okay with turkey. Chicken was the winner for her dog food by a landslide!
What’s really unique about this recipe is I use the whole chicken. And I really mean the whole chicken! Meat, skin, organs, and bones! There are tons of nutritional benefits in the organs and bones which is why I decided to incorporate this into the recipe, but it also gets you the most bang for your buck, when you purchase a whole chicken, there won’t be any waste!
I know what you’re thinking… aren’t chicken bones dangerous for dogs? Well, yes, but the danger is the risk of chicken bone shards injuring the digestive tract. In this recipe, the bones are cooked so long, that I can crumble them with ease between my fingers. For good measure, I also puree all the bones in a food processor to make what I call bone slurry.
I originally started this recipe in my crock pot, but once I found out how well these froze, I now only make double batches of dog food to save on time and freeze a boat load at a time. The only caveat with making more than one batch at a time is that it will no longer fit into a crock pot.
My solution to this was buying a turkey roaster, or what I like to call it, my giant crock pot, because that’s what it essentially is. Plus, I only paid like $30 to $40 for it, which is the cost most crock pots now-a-days! I really like my giant crock pot, I use it to make Pebbles’ dog food and pho (it has been a lifesaver for making large batches of soup, stock, and broth).
Now it’s time to butcher the chickens to go into the giant crock pot!
I quarter the chickens (remove the wings and legs) to make it quicker to cook, then take the breasts of the bone and save the breast and skin in a separate bowl in the fridge for later in the recipe.
I layer the cock pot with the main carcass on the bottom, then the wings, then the legs on top. I put the legs on top because I like to pull some of the leg meat off after it has cooked instead of making the whole leg part of the bone slurry. Having it on top just makes it easier to identify after the chicken has cooked.
Fill with water until the water line just covers the bones. Turn to high (or 250 degrees if you are using a turkey roaster like me) and have it cook for at least 12 hours with the lid on. I usually let it cook overnight. Cooking it this long is crucial to make sure the bones are soft enough for the slurry.
The next morning, after the chicken is done cooking, it’s time to turn off the crock pot and let cool a bit so it is easier to start removing the chicken. This about the time that Pebbles starts sniffing the air around the kitchen a lot and the kitchen becomes her new favorite hangout place for the day.
I start with removing the meat from the legs, since the meat is falling off the bone, if I don’t tackle the legs first, they just fall apart in the chicken abyss. Since they leg meat doesn’t need to cook any longer, into the fridge it goes!
Now I just throw all other solids (bones, fat, skin, organs) into a food processor.
Mmm sounds like bone slurry time. I want to achieve milkshake consistency, so I blend the solids in the food processor for at least 1 minute. If it’s a little dry, I just pour in a bit of stock so it can blend nicely.
To make sure there’s no hidden bone fragments, I strain the liquid, which is now awesome chicken stock, and reserve about 6 cups for this recipe. The rest of the chicken broth can go into the fridge or freezer to use as chicken stock. I like to use it for cooking rice, pasta, and making soup. I usually have about 8 extra cups of chicken stock each time I make a batch, which is great because now I never buy chicken stock.
Toss in the brown rice, quinoa, black beans, reserved chicken breast and chicken breast skin, and reserved 6 cups of chicken liquid/stock into crock pot. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Then give it a good stir and add the green beans and keep cooking for an additional 1 hour. At this point, I usually skim the fat off the extra chicken stock and pour it into the crock pot.
Time to throw the rest of the ingredients (bone slurry and chicken thighs, and eggs) in and mix. Whenever I get to this step Pebbles likes to cozy up to me to see if she can get a taste. It’s so hard to resist that look! So I usually sneak her a couple bites, I mean, it’s her dog food anyways.
I dole out about 2 lbs of food per container. Usually I fill up half the container, throw in the eggs (since I usually forget to make them before the previous step of mixing everything together), then fill the rest of the container over the eggs. Each batch makes up about six 2 lbs containers.
If you want to avoid grains, you can swap the brown rice for sweet potatoes. And if you want to avoid starch completely, just omit it entirely. (But again, I am not a veterinarian or nutritionist, please consult with a professional ensure your dog food meets your dog’s nutritional needs.)
Suggested serving size of dog food is 2% of dog’s body weight in lbs. Pebbles is 50 lbs, so that means she would get 1 lb of food a day. But, you need to adjust this for your dog’s needs, since dogs of the same weight can have drastically different levels of activity, you need to increase or decrease as needed.
Pebbles does cardio like it’s no one’s business! So we feed her 1 lbs of dog food a day (split in to 2 meals), but also leave a side of dry food for her to eat as she pleases (dry on the side since it sits all day, I would not advise leaving the homemade food out for longer than an hour). Free feeding most dogs isn’t usually recommended, as it could lead to overeating, but Malinois’ are very lean and some days she works harder than others, so her food intake varies day to day.
Now the last important thing to remember with homemade dog food is to ensure your pup is getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need. I always give Pebbles a multi vitamin with her meals. As a puppy she was prone to UTIs and had a Parvo scare, so we also give probiotics and a cranberry supplement.
We buy pretty much all our dog treats, supplements, chews, and meds from Drs. Foster and Smith. They have great prices and Pebbles always prefers the Drs. Foster and Smith brands over any others.
Pebbles has been enjoying this recipe for a little over a year now. I usually try to keep it interesting by swapping out the green beans for some other vegetable and the quinoa for another carb. How did this recipe turn out for you and your pup?